"Battling an Ancient Scourge, With Satellites And Sari Cloth"

"BOSTON - The world has seen seven global cholera outbreaks since 1817, and the current one seems to have come to stay. Rising temperatures and a stubbornly persistent, toxic bacteria strain appear to have given the disease the upper hand.

Public health officials are working on vaccines, struggling to improve sanitation in impoverished nations and grasping for ways to predict the outbreaks. One team of researchers has proposed attacking the pandemic using a combination of high- and low-tech: Satellites and sari cloth.

Where the previous pandemics lasted five to 25 years, this one started in 1961. "We are in the 50th year of this and it shows no evidence of abating. If anything, it's revving up," said Edward T. Ryan, director of tropical medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital. "We are in this for the long haul."

The pandemic began in Indonesia, stormed into South America in 1991, and has regularly burst out in lethal episodes. The earthquake in Haiti in 2010 opened the door to an outbreak that has killed approximately 5,000 people. In Zimbabwe, nearly 10,000 died between 2008 and 2009. Spikes in the disease have hit Vietnam, Angola, Sudan, Somalia, and followed widespread flooding in Pakistan."

Doug Struck reports for The Daily Climate July 6, 2011.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011